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Celebrating community champions

This week I was excited to learn that one of our partners, Jan van den Herik, had received Royal recognition for his tireless efforts to make a difference in CSR and championing sustainable business practices, the national coalition against loneliness in society, the national excellence awards for students with a non-western migrant background, the UN Global Compact Young Professional programme, sheltering a Ukrainian refugee family, etc. Something that was apparently already more than a year in the making for a very worthy candidate. I salute Jan and all his peers for the many voluntary contributions to society and could myself lucky to have the privilege to work with him. 

In the Netherlands, we have a reputation for commitment to community and social welfare, and volunteerism shines brightly. Every year, some 3,000 individuals are honoured with a royal recognition for their outstanding contributions to society through volunteer work. These recognitions serve as a testament to the power of individuals to make a positive impact in their communities, often in quiet yet profoundly meaningful ways. And the ones receiving recognition in this way are only a small group – there are so many more volunteers doing their bit to making our society liveable. Just recently I bumped into two ladies who were collecting trash. They were part of the local ‘Berm Brigade”, a group of volunteers who collaborate to maintain, or beautify the berms in their community. Inspired by their example – this week I was also ‘at it’ and it feels great to make this small but meaningful contributions. 

From lending a hand at local shelters to organizing community events, from mentoring or teaching the youth to caring for the elderly, volunteers in the Netherlands embody the spirit of compassion, empathy, and solidarity. Their selfless dedication enriches the lives of countless others, fostering a sense of belonging and interconnectedness that strengthens the social fabric of our society.

As we celebrate these remarkable individuals, let us also reflect on the significance of volunteerism and how each one of us can play a part in building a more caring and inclusive community.

Some Tips for Volunteering

Are you inspired to make a difference in your community but unsure where to start? Here are some tips to guide you on your volunteering journey:

  • Whether it’s environmental conservation, education, healthcare, or animal welfare, choosing a cause that resonates with you will make your volunteer experience more fulfilling.
    • Explore local organizations, charities, and non-profits that align with your interests. Many organizations welcome volunteers with open arms and provide training and support to help you get started.
    • Consider what skills and talents you can bring to the table. 
    • Be realistic about the time and energy you can dedicate to volunteering. Start Small: Don’t feel pressured to take on too much at once. Start with small, manageable tasks and gradually expand your involvement as you become more comfortable and confident in your abilities.
    • Building relationships with fellow volunteers and the people you’re serving can be one of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering.
    • Celebrate your achievements and the positive impact you’re making in your community.

So, cheers to you Jan and all those other volunteers. Together, we can create a more compassionate and vibrant society where everyone can thrive. Get Involved Today! 

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